ELECTION: Moolenaar, Norton contending for Michigan's 2nd congressional district

Candidates share background, stance on topics

Voters in Mecosta, Osceola and Lake counties will have the opportunity to make their voices heard in several elections in 2022.

Voters in Mecosta, Osceola and Lake counties will have the opportunity to make their voices heard in several elections in 2022.

Pioneer image/Ronald DeBrock

Two Republicans are competing for Michigan’s new 2nd congressional district in the Aug. 2 primary election.

Congressman John Moolenaar, who has represented Michigan’s fourth congressional district for four terms, is running for reelection against newcomer Tom Norton.

The new 2nd district includes all or part of 20 counties, including all of Mecosta, Osceola and Lake counties.

Congressman John Moolenaar


John Moolenaar

Moonlenaar was born and raised in Midland and has lived in the city for most of his life. His parents moved to the area when his father got a job as a chemist for Dow. Moolenaar graduated from H. H. Dow High School and attended Hope College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.

“I had always enjoyed studying history and learning about leaders. When Bill Schuette first ran for Congress (in 1984), I started paying more attention (to politics),” Moolenaar said.

Moolenaar served on Midland City Council from 1997 to 2000 before being elected to the Michigan House of Representatives from 2003 to 2008 and to the Michigan Senate from 2011 to 2014. He has served as a congressman, serving Michigan’s fourth congressional district, from 2015 to today.

“It’s a tremendous honor to serve,” Moolenaar said. “I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to represent Midland County for many years. I’m grateful for the support and opportunity to represent a great community.”

Moolenaar and his wife, Amy, have raised six kids in Midland; their youngest is currently attending college. Moolenaar played baseball and basketball when he was young. Today, he enjoys watching his children play sports.

Moolenaar describes himself as a conservative politician with a strong belief in helping people. His efforts have spanned from the local to the federal level. Moolenaar explained that he works to hear constituents’ input and tours local businesses to learn what’s important to communities.

“That’s why public service is meaningful,” Moolenaar said. “It’s the opportunity to help people and the opportunity to solve problems in life.”

If reelected to Congress, Moolenaar would like to expand internet access to rural areas in Michigan. He also hopes to continue preserving freedoms and restoring energy independence; he is a strong advocate for the Line 5 oil pipeline.

“I think the Biden administration’s policies have discouraged oil and gas and domestic energy production (and) have been disastrous for our country,” Moolenaar said. “We need to turn that around.”

Tom Norton

Tom Norton

Photo provided/Tom Norton

Norton’s family goes back five generations in Michigan. He lives in Rockford in Kent County.

Norton and his wife, Jamie, have been married for 14 years. Together, they have raised three kids – two girls and a boy.

Norton, an Afghan War veteran, has served as a trustee and president of the village of Sand Lake. He has continued to support fellow veterans by serving as the commander of his local American Legion post and co-founding the West Michigan Veterans Ranch.

Norton, who labels himself as a “constitutional conservative with a backbone,” doesn’t consider Moolenaar a conservative leader.

"(Americans) want people who are actually going to fight for what they believe in and fight for their groups,” Norton said.

If elected, Norton hopes to put the Pledge of Allegiance and the Constitution back in schools and restrict bathroom access based on biological gender. He stated he would also propose and support energy policies in favor of power plants, more oil refineries and expanded oil drilling in the U.S.

When asked about the recent hearings regarding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, both Moolenaar and Norton stated they have not watched the proceedings.

“People in my district are more concerned with inflation and the challenges they’re facing with their daily lives, so (Jan. 6) is not a topic I hear a lot about,” Moolenaar said.

Norton explained that he hasn’t followed the Jan. 6 hearings because he hasn’t time for “communist propaganda.” According to him, the events of Jan. 6, 2021, consisted of a handful of frustrated Americans who rioted.

“If we’re going to investigate Jan. 6, why are we not investigating the far left’s activities as well?” Norton said, citing Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and Roe v. Wade protests across the nation this year. “Until they are willing to do that, I’m not going to even bother to pay attention to it.”

Moolenaar said he “absolutely” stands by his decision to sign an amicus brief in December 2020. The brief, supported by 106 Republican members of Congress, was in support of a Texas lawsuit requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court invalidate the results of the November 2020 election, which included the election of Joe Biden as president. Texas specifically sued to challenge the results in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Moolenaar stated there were irregularities in the election and the right thing to do was to bring the question to the Supreme Court.